This is How They Will Find You
You had forgotten how it felt to stand in the shower with someone else. To have someone else watch your nudity, to see your hands rub soap against your body. To have somebody else see you at your most vulnerable state. You have avoided getting into the shower with someone else, because your mind, body and soul have still not learnt how to not see this as a trigger. They still crave aloneness in tiny spaces, like your bathroom, because memories of the past are still as clear as day.
You had forgotten how it felt to have your hair washed. To stand beneath the shower head and let warm water fall on you. To let someone else lather shampoo between their palms, before they start, slowly at first, tenderly even, to scrub your scalp. To worry that they are too tender, and maybe your hair won’t sparkle. To have them, without being told, increase intensity, push the strands sideways, massaging the scalp, still with tenderness. To stand beneath the shower head as warm water washes away the foam, as someone else’s hands gently massage your scalp, rinsing your hair, wringing it dry, lifting your face to look at them, and saying, still tenderly, ‘this is done.’
You had forgotten what tenderness felt like, or vulnerability, so you fought tears when they wrapped their hands around your waist ad kissed your forehead. The same way you fought those tears last night when they held you close to their chest, their breathing turning heavy, before they fell asleep against the softness of your skin.
You had forgotten what tenderness felt like, because your life, lately, has been an oscillation between sadness, and despair, and hopelessness, and a never ending darkness. An oscillation between a little life, and a grand death. Between emptiness, and a vast desire to fill yourself with nothing. Of wanting to stay alive, fighting for it even, and waiting for death at your front door. Of constantly crying yourself to sleep, unable to put this feeling in your chest into words. Unable to breathe without tears clouding your eyes. Unable to think without darkness clouding your vision. Unable to live. Unable to want. Unable to exist as freely as your heart and soul would want to.
You had forgotten how tenderness felt like, because you are always afraid of leaving. Of people going out of sight when your whole life depends on them. Of things getting out of hand just when happiness begins to find your eyes. Of life losing meaning just when you begin to accept that maybe, just maybe, tomorrow will be better. Of death beginning to look like the only way out of this darkness that grows darker, day by day.
You had forgotten how tenderness feels like because your life, lately, has been you waiting, and wondering when things will come to an end. When happiness will turn to sadness. When sadness will turn into a hide and seek with death. When night will end and usher in the cruel light of day. When they will leave. When you will lose meaning in their life. When they will not remember your name, or when they will only remember it when they need something only you can give. When calmness will leave your heartbeat, and be replaced by unending anxiety. When your breath will stop and turn into air. When your feet will tire of carrying the heaviness in your bones.
You had forgotten how tenderness feels like because your life, lately, has been you crying yourself to sleep, waking up with dark circles beneath your eyes, and struggling to find answers to the question, ‘What is wrong?’ Because sometimes this darkness in your heart does not have a name. It does not have a trigger, neither does it forewarn you of its coming; it just bursts through your front door. Because sometimes, this darkness takes everything from you, including your voice, so that when they ask, and ask, and ask, your only response is to cry, and cry, and cry, and hope that the lights go out, forever.
So on the morning when you stand in the shower with someone else and let them wash your hair, you can feel the leaving in your bones. When they pour shampoo, then conditioner, and rub your scalp, you feel the leaving in the tips of their fingers. So you weep silently, slowly at first, before your whole body starts shaking, and you feign surprise at your own act.
You feel their impending leaving in the way they say they do not want to stop touching your hair, even though the washing is done. In the way they wrap the towel around your body, and watch as you dry yourself. In the way they stare as you oil your nakedness, and let your hair loose for drying. In the way they stand before you and kiss your forehead, letting their lips linger on your skin a little longer than normal. As if they also know that they are leaving. That this might be the last time they see you. As if something within them has told them that you know about this impending leaving, so they lift your chin and kiss the tear that is just making its way down your cheek.
On the evening after they leave, you curl in bed and wait for the tears, but they do not come. You wait for the heart to start racing, but it remains as calm as night. You wait for your stomach to start rumbling because you have been unable to eat all day, but nothing. You are sure the nausea will show up, it always does, so you move to the toilet and place your head against the seat in anticipation. You wait, and wait, and wait, but nothing shows up.
You begin to think that maybe you have gotten past the pain of being left, that your body has accustomed to the pain. You begin to think that the tenderness has settled well into your bones, and that happiness has overtaken the sadness in your heart. You think, and think, and think…
Someone, a neighbour, bangs their front door. Someone screams somewhere. Your heart leaps into your mouth. You hit your head against the toilet seat. You hit, and hit, and hit…
This is how they will find you in the next couple of days, when they wanted something from you and couldn’t get hold of you.
This is how they will find you; in a dried pool of your own blood, cold as death itself.